$904,000 for Art for Waterfront Approved

Waterfront Art work
Artist's rendition of how the artwork tower will look.

THUNDER BAY – Editorial – City Council voted to spend $900,000 for outdoor art for the Waterfront Park at Council last night. In a community where residents are looking for safer streets, and better roads, it sometimes seems a majority of Councillors might be not hearing that message.

Certainly art is important. However it is also certain that had this artwork not been approved that the Waterfront Project would continue, and that people would go the the park.

The budget item for the artwork was reportedly already approved. However perhaps across Council Chambers the concept of taking some steps toward fiscal cuts would help send the message that the Councillors are hearing the concerns of weary taxpayers. These twin towers are not likely to either make, or break the project in terms of its overall appeal to tourists or the public.

Instead, we are getting a pair of beacons. They are, as stated by the City, “Two 21 metres high cor-ten steel structures, programmed LED lighting system, and sound system. The Beacons’ design is based on the idea of duality as a major guiding force of the project. The quality or state of “being dual” evokes the Ojibway mythology, and serves the many formative features of the project’s context and content, always referring to the City of Thunder Bay’s history. Some of these dualities or pairings are: land/sea; earth/sky; Port Arthur/Fort William; day/night; summer/winter; sun/moon; sleeping/awake; myth/reality, etc.

“The Beacons’ design evolved into two tall, elegant sculptures marking the landscape and giving a sense of place for the one who approaches the Waterfront from the city and from the lake, approximating city and water in a symbolic moment. They refer to the local tradition of shipbuilding, and furthermore, they talk with the swaying movement of the contiguous boat masts.

“The artistic lighting will gently drop down the length of the Beacons, communicating by way of Morse code, a direct reference to navigation. The lights will be accompanied by sound at the bottom of each structure, broadcasting whispers narrated by locals. Both the light and the sound communicate the mythologies, histories, chronicles, narratives, and poetry that form the collective consciousness of Thunder Bay”.

Originally, the tower was to be one that in the winter could be used for ice climbing, however that plan has gone by the wayside apparently due to potential liability issues. One might wonder if the recordings played on these beacons will include tales of people having their cars pounded by our deteriorating streets, or of the growing incidents of property crime? Perhaps there could be some laments from taxpayers who are concerned over their taxes.

It is City Council’s job to make sure that not only is the money in the budget being well managed, but also that the overall good of the city is being served.

What is a $904,000.00? In terms of our city, it could be broken down to about $8.25 for every man, woman and child in our city.

Perhaps by 2014, when the civic election campaign begins, the citizens of Thunder Bay will have the impetus to start making some of the needed changes to our Council to put in some new ideas, new faces and fresh responsibility that will really help make our community a better place that our citizens so richly deserve.

Councillors Virdiramo (Westfort), Rydholm (Neebing), and Mayor Hobbs voted against the resolution.

James Murray